Over the last few years, we have seen a lot more products from the engineers over at WESTERN MOUNTAINEERING. While they don’t enjoy the same name-brand recognition of some of their competitors, they have nevertheless managed to capture a loyal audience among outdoor enthusiasts.
In our SUMMERLITE sleeping bag review we are going to explore what may well be the flagship product from Western Mountaineering. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s a warm, mummy-style sleeping bag with a full hood and superior comfort all around. While a touch more expensive than most of the mid-range brands on the market, the SUMMERLITE mummy bag is in a class of its own, and the extra cost is most definitely worth it to the right kind of adventurer.
Western Mountaineering SUMMERLITE Review: Basic Overview
STYLE: Full-hooded mummy
LENGTH: 5’6”, 6’, or 6’6”
WIDTH (SHOULDER): 59”
WIDTH (HIP): 51”
WEIGHT: 19 OZ
FILL: 850+ goose down
INSULATION RATING (COMFORT): 32F
INSULATION RATING (SURVIVAL): 15F
BEST FEATURE: COMFORTABLE & DURABLE FABRICS
Here’s the straight skinny.
The SUMMERLITE sleeping bag by Western Mountaineering is what you might call a high-end sleeping bag, if for no other reason than the price tag, which is considerable by most standards. On the other hand, what you are getting is actually a high-end product. This here is a sleeping bag that totally delivers on its promised insulation rating, and even goes a bit beyond in our opinion. The material is sleek and stylish, not to mention more tear resistant than many of the sleeping bags we have reviewed.
The hooded mummy style is something that you either love or hate … there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of middle ground if you go out and ask people what their preference is. The benefits of a tighter cut include considerably more warmth retention and a much lighter product, however, there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t mind sacrificing some body heat in exchange for some extra leg room.
The full hood is something that our entire team can agree on. The head is one area that we’d prefer to have a bunch of excess room. Breathing, after all, is one of our very favorite things. When it comes to ultralight sleeping bags, you aren’t going to find one that is much better than the SUMMERLITE. It is one of the most comfortable bags I’ve ever had the pleasure of climbing into, and the warmth retention promises turned out to be true. The price tag might put this bag out of range for some folks, but anyone looking for a high-end bag might want to consider the Summerlite.
Sleeping Bag Review Challenge: Summerlite VS. The Competition
Time to see how the Summerlite stacks up to its closest competitors in terms of warmth, weight, & comfort. It’s a bag-off, ladies & gents.
Round ONE: Summerlite VS. Marmot Phase Sleeping Bag
There is no question that Marmot makes some of the best sleeping bags on the planet, not to mention a whole host of other things such as down jackets and four season tents. The PHASE is no doubt their flagship sleeping bag, and the online sales numbers certainly confirm this.
The biggest difference between these two bags is weight. The PHASE is about 3 ounces heavier, which is enough to be a serious consideration for the long distance hiker. The PHASE however is also a bit cheaper, enough so that it might be the better choice for the budget conscious gear-shopper.
Round TWO: Summerlite VS. Naturehike Ultralight Sleeping Bag
The biggest difference between Western Mountaineering and Naturehike is that the former focuses on high-performance equipment at the ‘prosumer’ level, which tends to be a bit more expensive. Naturehike on the other hand has built a reputation on offering quality outdoor gear that isn’t going to break the bank.
However the differences between the SUMMERLITE and the NATUREHIKE go deeper than that. For one, the Naturehike bag is rated for even more extreme temperatures at 15 degrees F. There is less room in the Naturehike hood, and overall it feels a bit tighter or more constrained than the Summerlite.
Round THREE: Summerlite VS. AEGISMAX Ultralight Sleeping Bag
The AEGISMAX Ultra-light goose down sleeping bag is less expensive than both the Summerlite and the Naturehike sleeping bags that we looked at above, but the lower level comfort rating is 45 degrees F, which means that it isn’t going to be the warmest bag on today’s Sleeping Bag Review Challenge.
The reduced price is a huge plus however. At this level almost everyone can afford one of these, and because it features the same 800+ down filling and ripstop Nylon, for the most part you are getting the very same product.
The AEGISMAX is much roomier compared to the other two sleeping bags. In fact, we wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a full mummy bag, but rather as a hybrid style sleeping bag.
How to Choose a Sleeping Bag: A Brief Buyer’s Guide
If you are thinking about throwing down some of your hard earned cash for a top of the line sleeping bag, you are going to want to take the time to understand exactly what goes into making a sleeping bag, and if possible, see if you can come to a conclusion on what the best sleeping bag for you is.
We’ve compiled an informative but brief guide to help you make your decision.
Insulation Fill: Down vs. Synthetic Sleeping Bags
When it comes to sleeping bag construction, there are two principal types. The first is down fill, and the second is synthetic. While a third option, cotton, certainly exists, almost nobody uses it for sleeping bag fill anymore because of how poorly it breathes and how heavy it is.
Down Fill Sleeping Bags utilize animal feathers for their natural abilities to both insulate and be light, two things that are really important in sleeping bags. Most of the down feathers used for this purpose are harvested from geese, though there are some exceptions. People prefer down to synthetic because it is both lighter and warmer, however it does not perform as well in wet or humid conditions.
Synthetic Fill Sleeping Bags are touted for being significantly less expensive than down fill bags as well as their ability to retain insulation capabilities even when wet or damp. Synthetic materials have still not been able to fully replicate the impressive weight-to-warmth ratio of down-fill bags, proving once again that mother nature usually gets things right when given millions of years of evolution. Even Western Mountaineering has only had about thirty.
Shape & Style
The shape of a sleeping bag is going to dictate how much warmth is retained and perhaps how comfortable the bag is going to be.
Mummy Style Sleeping Bags are designed to cut down on both materials weight and heat loss by utilizing a tapered shape that is broader at the shoulders and narrower as it moves towards the feet, just like us. While his makes for a lighter sleeping bag and less heat loss, it can also be a bit more cramped or enclosed. The smaller size means that when you toss and turn in a mummy bag, you toss and turn with the bag as opposed to turning inside of it.
Rectangular / Envelope Style Sleeping Bags are becoming less common, however many manufacturers are still cranking them out because of a few unique advantages that they offer that mummy bags do not. For one, they are able to be completely unzipped and used as a blanket. Secondly, there is significantly more space inside the sleeping bag which can make for a more comfortable sleep, especially if you’re like me and like having a single leg sticking out at all times for whatever reason.
Western Mountaineering Company Overview
Although the San Jose, California based WESTERN MOUNTAINEERING has been around for over thirty years, you aren’t going to see their products in as many places as their competitors. That’s because their small-scale US-based production facility focus on quality over quantity. All of their materials are responsibly sourced, including the all-natural goose-down that is used in all their sleeping bags.
Western Mountaineering offers a Lifetime Manufacturer’s Warranty, which covers things like broken seams and other manufacturers defects free of charge. They’ve also got a killer customer service line, which means that it won’t be a huge pain in the neck if you have to call in for a replacement or a repair.
Western Mountaineering Summerlite Review: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does this sleeping bag come with a bag?
A: Yes, the SUMMERLITE sleeping bag does come with a stuff-sack, however, the included bags are not usually the best that you can get. If you are looking for a quick and inexpensive upgrade, you should consider investing in a waterproof compression bag, which will protect your bag from the elements while also making it pack down to an even smaller size.
Q: What is the origin of this bag?
A: All Western Mountaineering products are made in the USA, and the company headquarters on San Jose, California. They source all their materials from as close as possible, and are conscious of where these materials came from. For instance, all of the goose down feathers from a cruelty-free goose farm where they are harvested from the den, as opposed to being plucked directly from the animals.
Q: Do I need extra padding or support for sleeping on the ground? A: Even if you are sleeping on very soft ground, our team highly recommends using your sleeping bag with a sleeping pad. Not only does this additional layer offer softness and support, but it can be a great insulator against the ground, which is actually where most of your body heat escapes to over the course of the night.